OKI PS-800E Review

by Andy on September 17, 2007

OK International has come out with a new soldering system, the PS-800E. This new soldering station is designed for repetitive manual soldering and touch-up. The PS-800E is a little different than the existing PS-800. It has a new coil assembly and tip range that has a larger conductive areas than the PS-800. This bigger area makes the thermal energy transfer easier from station to tip. This, along with the tip’s design, makes lead-free soldering a heck of a lot easier.

The PS-800E (along with the PS-800) is made to be used with SmartHeat PowerTips Heater Tips and the PS-CA2 Coil Assembly. This allows high quality products to be made quickly and safely.

A big line of large diameter, high power tips have been developed by OK International for the PS-800E. These types of tips result in an extended tip life without diminishing tip performance.

There are many concerns regarding the high thermal demands of soldering with lead-free alloys, but these are addressed with the PS-800E’s enhancement of its tips’ thermal transfer abilities.
Another great feature of this soldering station is the innovative work stand. It goes to sleep automatically, which helps increase the life of the tip by letting the cartridge sit at a lower temperature. This also reduces oxidation and power used.


What is NIST?

by Andy on September 10, 2007

What is “NIST” exactly? That is a question we get a lot from our customers. NIST, a government agency, stands for “National Institute of Standards and Technology.” NIST explains what they do on their website in quite a bit of detail, but a summary of what they do is fairly easy to understand.

We live in a world that is constantly evolving and coming up with new technology every day. These technologies include nanotechnology, information technology, and advanced manufacturing. In order for these new technologies to advance and compete with each other, a production standard must be kept. NIST sets these standards with tools that evaluate and measure each product in order to keep a level playing field for all competing companies.

Extech Multimeter So when you order a product that is NIST-certified, you aren’t just receiving a more expensive product, you are getting something that has been tested and evaluated by NIST. For example, if you order a NIST-certified Extech multimeter from All-Spec and order the same NIST-certified product from a competitor, the product will be exactly the same in specifications. This is guaranteed for up to a year.

All-Spec Industries carries many NIST-certified products that are available for electronic production, service, repair, and testing.

Here are some interesting NIST facts:

– The headquarters are in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
– One of NIST’s laboratories uses an atomic clock that serves as the nation’s official time.
– For the 2006 fiscal year, NIST had a budget of $930 million dollars.
– Everything from milk to CD players to seat belts depend on NIST for regulation.

For more information on NIST and what they do, frequently asked questions, and NIST news visit their website here.


NETcat Pro NC-500 Review

by Andy on August 31, 2007

NETcat Pro NC-500 Greenlee has recently released its new advanced wiring troubleshooter. The NETcat Pro NC-500 is one of the newest members of Greenlee’s growing LAN product line.  The NC-500 is designed for accurately checking cables, wiring, and network service in a fast, efficient manner. This product also has many other features that users will find informative, useful, and easy-to-use.

The purpose of the NC-500 is to troubleshoot a range of network wiring. It generates four distinct precision tones for tracing low-loss cables like Category 5 and 6. It can detect shorts, opens, reversed, crossed, and split pairs. Active network devices (Hub or PC) on 10/100 Base-T networks can also be identified with the NC-500.

Aesthetically, the NETcat Pro NC-500 is a very easy tool to work with. It has a back-lit touch screen display that can be used with a fingertip or the built-in stylus. The NC-500 proves its usability with the easily navigable screen. From the screen you can control a range of tests from fault finding to time domain reflectometer length measurement. The display language can be set to English, Spanish, French, or German.

The NETcat Pro NC-500 works best with its accessory kit, the NC-510. With this additional kit’s seven expansion remote test modules, you can uniquely test shielded or unshielded twisted pair and coaxial cables eight at a time from a central location. These remote units also let you identify each jack. It also provides full wire-map and fault display, as well as each pair’s length.

Some additional features of the NC-500 are:

-Tests UTP and STP wiring and coaxial cables
-TDR shows length of each pair for distances between zero and 2000 feet
-Office identification using remote ID units
-Uses a 9V battery and also has a low battery indicator

Visit Greenlee’s NC-500 page for more information on this product or check out more NC-500 stats here.


Why Lead-free Soldering is Better

by Andy on August 23, 2007

It’s been a year since the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive and the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) have mandated that lead be eliminated from electronic systems. Consequently, this has led engineers to a high interest in using lead-free soldering alloys. Some of the harmful alloys that are used in normal soldering are tin, copper, silver bismuth, indium, zinc, and antimony.

So why are these dangerous to humans everywhere? Prior to 1930, all homes used lead pipes to transport water to and from houses. Now, most homes use copper piping. However, this is still a problem because most of these copper pipes were assembled using solder, which is approximately 50% lead. This harmful lead, whether through piping or from the solder used to blend the pipes, is especially prominent in the water a few years after installation of the pipes.

In addition to lead solder being applied in piping, it is often used in some basic household staples like canned food. Canned fruit and vegetables, canned juices, and tomato sauce are extremely likely to contain high levels of lead from the solder used to solder the tops of the cans on. In spite of these dangers, the FDA still has not banned lead solder in food packaging, but many manufacturers are taking precautions against this.

Some of the alloys that could replace soldering products containing lead are Sn95.5Ag3.9Cu0.6 for surface mount reflow soldering and Sn99.3Cu0.7 for wave soldering. Sn96.5Ag3.0Cu0.5 is recommended for reflow soldering with SnAg and SnZnBi as alternative alloys. The SnAgCu alloy family is the most popular choice at present for lead-free alternatives.

Kester Lead-Free Solder Paste There are many lead-free products for sale including lead-free solder paste, lead-free flux, lead-free solder wire, and other lead-free products that can be used as substitutes for lead products. If you haven’t been living under a rock lately, you have probably heard of the Mattel fiasco where over a million toys were recalled because of the lead paint that was used on them. People are so worried about children being exposed to lead that they are pushing Mattel to set up a fund to test children for lead poisoning. This recent disaster will hopefully bring much needed attention to the dangers of lead.

For more information on how you can safely solder using lead-free products click here or for some technical information on lead-free alloys visit the NIST website. For ways to guard yourself against lead in your environment check out the Environmental Health Threats website.


New Green Shippers!

by Andy on August 9, 2007

Green Shipper with PCB It isn’t easy being green these days, but you can take a step in this direction with the new green cell foam ESD box. These tiny shippers are used for transporting and protecting printed circuit  boards. This is the only fully recyclable ESD box made from biodegradable foam made from non-GMO cornstarch. The boxes are RoHS, an acronym meaning “the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.” When certain products are RoHS, they do not contain more than the agreed levels of harmful chemicals such as lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. These shippers are virtually the same as the pink foam shippers made by Centurian except they cut down on environmental waste because they can be recycled, composted, or simply dissolved in water. Some other great features are:

  • Instead of applying glue to bond the foam to the box, water is used.
  • Price is comparable to polyethylene and polyurethane 1.7lb. boxes.
  • Naturally anti-static
  • Acts as a desiccant
  • MARPOL approved (can be disposed in waterways)

So next time you’re in the market for circuit board shippers, be a friend to the environment and go green. Check out these new green shippers on All-Spec’s website.

– If you’d like to learn more about RoHS products, visit their official website here!